Some Hillsborough County buses won’t come as often starting Sunday, with the county’s transit agency trying to make service more reliable by reducing service on routes that don’t see many riders.
Out of 17 routes with schedule changes planned, many will now have bus service every hour on weekdays instead of every half-hour, and one route will see buses come every 30 minutes instead of every 20.
Two routes will have buses come about as often as before, and one will have buses come more often.
The changes are aimed at making buses more reliable, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority leadership said at a Monday meeting of its board. Some riders have complained about HART’s practice of calling off runs along a route because of a driver shortage or another cause.
“We have to get to a point at HART where we’re providing reliable service,” HART CEO Adelee Le Grand said at Monday’s meeting. “Sixty-minute service is not the best service, is not the service that we want to be able to provide to our community, but that’s the amount of service that we have to provide right now based on our funding.”
The routes changing from every 30 minutes to hourly on weekdays have nine riders or fewer an hour while they’re active, said Ivan Maldonado, HART’s director of transportation and bus operations, at the meeting.
Based on HART’s standards for service, a 60-minute schedule is appropriate for that number of riders, Le Grand said. “Our resources were strained because we put more service out there than we had demand, than we had resources internally to actually cover,” she said.
People who take the county’s buses had mixed views on the changes.
“It’s a money game,” Julius Knight, 64, told the Tampa Bay Times. He and his fiance, Brittani Howard, said buses will be less convenient if they come less often.
But Javarus Mond, a 21-year-old Tampa resident, said it’s a good tradeoff to have buses come less often if they aren’t late.
“They just need to get here on time,” he said.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Kimberly Overman, a member of HART’s board, said at Monday’s meeting that she recognized HART faced financial constraints. In the long run, however, she said the agency should focus on making buses more frequent so that more people use them.
“How much can we do to improve those deliverable times so that people can count on it?” Overman said. “Because if they miss the 60 minute, it’s an hour later. And most people don’t have that kind of flexibility to be able to rely on that.”
Commissioner Gwen Myers, a member of HART’s board, acknowledged in an interview that the changes might create challenges for some riders. She noted that HART had considered the needs of low-income and minority riders in making the changes.
The changes are because fewer people are using buses in some areas, she said.
“If ridership picks up, then there might be the opportunity that there can be, more frequently, buses,” Myers said.
Here’s a list of the changes going into effect Sunday:
Buses will come every 60 minutes daily on routes 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 19, 30, 32, 36 and 37. On weekdays, these routes mostly have buses every 30 minutes under the current schedule.
Route 12 will run every 30 minutes daily. On weekdays, that route mostly has buses every 20 minutes under the current schedule.
Route 31 will have buses every 60 minutes on weekdays, instead of every 75 to 95 minutes.
Route 16 and Route 400 will have new schedules with similar frequencies.
Schedules for all HART bus routes are available at: http://www.gohart.org/Pages/maps-schedules.aspx